Before the gaming industry descended on Los Angeles for E3 last week, Elite: Dangerous players were treated to a surprise in the game with the first sightings of the Thargoids, a race of aliens that were also included in Frontier Developments’ previous games. At E3, we sat down with senior designer Sandy Sammarco to talk about upcoming content and how the Thargoids will play a part in future events.
The Alien Threat
For context on the Thargoids, we have to go back to 2015, when players first started to discover strange artifacts that had some relation to the alien species. The following year, players discovered additional evidence of the Thargoids, such as alien structures called barnacles, unknown probes, and alien wreckage. Some players even experienced the Thargoids interfering with their frameshift jumps between systems. Sammarco said that all these events led up to the recent reveal of the aliens and update 2.4 coming later this year in Q3, which is simply called “The Return.” Full details on the update are coming soon, but Sammarco let us know about a few things players can expect to see later this year.
According to Sammarco, the update was in development for the past year. The recent meetings with the Thargoids are a ramp up to an eventual confrontation, and Sammarco brought up the fact that players still only have access to human-specific weapons and armor, which probably means you’ll get try new alien technology in the fight against the Thargoids.
As if that wasn’t enough, Sammarco then showed us a clip portraying another piece of content. It featured a ship flying at a low altitude across an unknown planet. On the surface was a large object that resembled a wreck, but as the ship moved closer, it turns out that it was another alien structure. The ship then produced a rover that moved closer to the structure, which, to our surprise, opened to reveal a series of tunnels. Inside were floating units called Scavengers, which were moving from one place to another. As the rover moved further inside, unknown objects popped underneath its tires. Eventually, the rover approached a massive central room... and then the video cut to black. Sammarco smiled and even though we, understandably, had some questions about the clip, he didn’t provide any comment about what we had just witnessed.
In addition to “The Return” update, Sammarco also briefly mentioned Frontier’s additional work on the game in the near future. “The Return” marks the end of Horizons, which is Elite: Dangerous' second season, and even though new content will arrive as part of the update, the studio is also working on refining existing gameplay features and “making the player experience better.” Similar to the new update, Sammarco mentioned that more details about these changes are coming in the future.
In the meantime, non-PC players will also benefit from the new updates and changes. He mentioned that Frontier is also working on updates to support the upcoming Xbox One X console. Those on the PlayStation 4 will soon join in on the action when Elite: Dangerous comes out on June 27. Sammarco mentioned that players on Sony’s console can use the DualShock 4’s Sixaxis motion controls to move their ship. The touchpad in the middle of the controller is also used to access different mechanics within the ship. Those with a PlayStation 4 Pro will see an additional set of visual options for the game.
When “The Return” launches, all three platforms will have players combating the new alien threat, but it won't be the end of for Elite: Dangerous. Sammarco called the update “the end of the beginning and the start of a new story.” The Thargoids are just the tip of the iceberg, and Frontier Developments has more planned for its massive space-faring game. For now, we’ll just have to wait.